Power of an open question

If we think about it, life resists definition. How can we truly know things that continuously change, are impossible to pin down, and are always open to interpretation? Can we, for instance, ever reach absolute conclusions about the redness of a flower, a moment of grief, or the meaning of the universe? We’re lucky that... Continue Reading →

Why am I making such a big deal about myself?

There’s no way to make a dreadful situation pretty. But we can use the pain of it to recognize our sameness with other people. Shantideva said that since all sentient beings suffer from strong, conflicting emotions, and all sentient beings get what they don’t want and can’t hold on to what they do want, and... Continue Reading →

Hitting Rock Bottom

Pema Chödrön tells the story of when, having hit rock bottom, she asked her teacher what to do I thought I would tell you this little story about Naropa University’s founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and my very first one-on-one interview with him. This interview occurred during the time when my life was completely falling apart,... Continue Reading →

Holding anger and fear tenderly

When a mother working in the kitchen hears the cries of her baby, she puts anything she is holding down and goes to the room of the baby, picks the baby up and holds the baby dearly in her arms. We do exactly the same thing when the seed of anger and fear manifest in... Continue Reading →

Die on purpose

“In some ways, it’s as if you died and the world continued on. If you did die, all your responsibilities and obligations would immediately evaporate. Their residue would somehow get worked out without you. No one else can take over your unique agenda. It would die or peter out with you just as it has... Continue Reading →

Self-compassion

You may want to heal, but still find yourself slipping back into old habits of anger and resentment. This can be the most frustrating. After struggling for half a century with the British Empire, Mahatma Gandhi said that his most formidable opponent was not the British Empire or the Indian people, but a man named... Continue Reading →

Do I have any options?

“When it comes right down to it, the challenge of mindfulness is to realize that “this is it” Right now is my life. The question is, What is my relationship to it going to be? Does my life just automatically “happen” to me? Am I a total prisoner of my circumstances or my obligations, of... Continue Reading →

Believe in Your Goodness

Robert Johnson, the noted Jungian analyst, acknowledges how difficult it is for many of us to believe in our goodness. We more easily take our worst fears and thoughts to be who we are, the unacknowledged traits called our “shadow” by Jung. “Curiously,” writes Johnson, “people resist the noble aspects of their shadow more strenuously... Continue Reading →

Anxiety and Retraining the Mind

    In Buddhist psychology, the instructions for thought transformation are very explicit. The Buddha instructs his followers, “Like a skilled carpenter who removes a coarse peg by knocking it out with a fine one, so a person removes a pain-producing thought by substituting a beautiful one.” The carpenter’s peg is a practical description of... Continue Reading →

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